Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Chase for Change 2008: Election Countdown and Some Perspective from 2000/2004

Well for somewhat obvious reasons my focus was elsewhere these past two months, so I think this would be the first post in this series since Palin was picked as McCain's VP. Well what’s changed since then? Let’s see well Palin slowly lost credibly and has gone from being seeing as a genius gambit and to a massive drag on McCain’s campaign as she goes “rogue” for 2012, McCain lost credibility as the economy tanked and he suspended his campaign and seemed clueless what to do, McCain has launched desperate attack after desperate attack hoping something will stick, Joe the Plummer became official John McCain spokesman, and Sarah Palin’s friend Ted Stevens became a convicted felon and opened up another Senate on the Democrats’ quest for a filibuster proof majority in the Senate.

Meanwhile Obama has stayed consistently on message (notwithstanding some less than helpful remarks from some of his surrogates), put in 3 strong debate performances, responded to the economic crisis well and now has a chance to rout McCain on Election night. He’s put the Democrats back on the map in places where they’ve been out of the game for over a decade and has raised phenomenal amounts of money ($150 million in September alone!). Liberals here must make his campaign operation a case study for ourselves (and if they get some of the top guys who worked on his campaign to advise us all the better)

BUT, let’s NOT get too confident here. Obama is clearly leading, but McCain sits pretty much exactly where Al Gore sat in the polls at this point so late in the campaign in 2000. In the end he won the popular vote and should have won the election if they re-counted all the ballots in Florida. And in 2004...well take a look at these electoral college predictions from TWO DAYS before E-day last time. Kerry is seen is solidly ahead in Iowa, yet he lost. Kerry is ahead in Florida and he ended up being trounced losing by 5%. Kerry is ahead in Ohio and he lost there too. If you look at the next day you see Kerry up by 5% in Florida so that's 10% off the actual result.

So you can see that state polls in 2004 just two nights or even one night before E-day were off by more than 5 percentage points in several cases. Lucky for Obama he is in the lead in far more states than Kerry was, but if the national tide turns against Obama in the final days (as it did against Bush in 2000 and Kerry in 2004) then so would these state polls and McCain could pull ahead or Obama may only win by a razor thin margin late in the night. In 2000 the race was far closer than polls a week out predicted, in 2004 Bush won by many more votes than the polls a week out predicted, so let’s keep in the mind.

Even so, I'll be Chicago Tuesday cautiously optimistic that I’ll bear witness to Obama’s victory speech (and hopefully before midnight lest the crowd get too restless), but it definitely ain’t over till it’s over.

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Harper's New Coat of Paint

Excuse my extended (near 2 week) absence from blogging, I had A LOT of catching up to do on things post-election. But hopefully I should be able to keep it up now at least a few times a week from here on in. So with my return comes a review of the new Harper cabinet (see the full list of ministers below).

The Good:
- More women in cabinet, 11 out of 37 isn’t a record but it’s a massive improvement on the 7 out of 30 when Harper first came to power.
- Gary Lunn demoted. While Harper will never admit Lunn was a terrible minister and that firing Linda Keen was a mistake, at least this is an implicit recognition of that.
- John Baird demoted. As likely the worst and most partisan environment minister in history, few will be sad to see him out of that portfolio. Not that transport is a good fit for him either (especially if he’s still taking pointers from his friend Jim “we’re not in the pothole business” Flaherty) but at least he’s been knocked down the ladder in terms of profile.
- Leona Aglukkaq as Health Minister. Few had predicted this, but it’s a good choice, she was Health Minister in the Nunavut government so she’s obviously got the background. She also makes for the first female Health Minister I believe since Diane Marleau in the Chretien government.
- Lawrence Cannon at Foreign Affairs. Not really great, but Harper didn’t exactly have a strong hand to choose from, so probably there wasn’t anybody better he could have picked and at least Cannon has cabinet experience (Quebec Liberals) beyond this government.
- Larger cabinet. Yes it does cost more money, but at this time we need competent government and while I’m obviously not so sure we’ll get that with this government, overloading a smaller cabinet with work would not have helped matters at this crucial time. If Harper doesn’t start delegating matters the country will suffer.

The Bad:
- Ontario bashing, over the top partisanship and misnagement is rewarded by Stephen Harper
- “Ontario is the last place to invest” Flaherty stays where he is after turning a $12 billion surplus into a virtually certain deficit
- “small man of Confederation” Peter Van Loan is promoted to Public Safety
- Tony Clement is given Industry which I guess depending on who you talk is either lower, about the same, or higher in health in profile, but rumours were this is what Tony wanted and after the job he did at his old post (joking about listeriosis and being AWOL during the crisis, calling doctors unethical for supporting Insite, and failing to meet promises on wait times) anything but a demotion was undeserved.
- Gerry Ritz kept at Agriculture after badly mismanaging the listeriosis crisis. He deserved to be fired before the revelations of his jokes on the matter and it’s an absolute shame that as the crisis continues to unravel that he remains at the helm. It’s friends before country for Harper as I’ve said before.
- Jason Kenney (king of smear), now manages our immigration system. With the massive powers now invested in this minister through recent immigration changes this is scary indeed.
- Stockwell Day at Trade. This will be huge important with a new U.S. administration especially if it’s Obama. Day was not the right man for this job, too partisan and it’s not clear to me what background he has for this position. Someone more middle of the road with experience in negotiation would have been more appropriate.
- Chuck Strahl keeps his post at Indian Affairs. I think it’s about time for the Harper government to put a fresh face in there with a new start with Aboriginal Peoples. Their results on this file to date (notwithstanding the extremely important and overdue residential schools apology) and the lack of any new approach offered to them by this party in the last election have been disappointing to say the least.

With the economy being the main issue right now, I have to say it doesn’t inspire confidence to see the main economic portfolios of Finance, Industry, and Infrastructure going to the Harris crew who wrecked Ontario's finances (and are only getting started on the nation's), while Trade goes to Stockwell Day who seems ill-suited for this incredibly delicate post.

Harper said the economy will be his main focus over the next year and on that basis he’s failed in his first task in assembling a team to deal primarily with the current crisis. While there were some improvements (though the extra women in cabinet will only be meaningful if Harper actually gives them a voice and doesn't continue to run a one-man show), I have to say on the whole this is a disappointment as Harper has been unable to recognize which ministers were doing poorly (with a couple exceptions) and instead rewarded them by keeping them in their high profile posts or even worse promoting them. Meanwhile, he has also promoted the most partisan members of his last cabinet at a time when all parties need to work togther.

The failure to learn from mistakes and to reward his loyal friends over doing what’s best for the country will ultimately be a contributor to Harper’s downfall.

The Cabinet List:
- Jim Flaherty - Minister of Finance
- Lawrence Cannon - Minister of Foreign Affairs
- Tony Clement - Minister of Industry
- Stockwell Day - Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway
- Leona Aglukkaq - Minister of Health
- Jim Prentice - Minister of the Environment
- John Baird - Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities
- Robert Nicholson - Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
- Jason Kenney - Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism
- Gerry Ritz - Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board - Chuck Strahl - Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and
- Peter MacKay - Minister of National Defence and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway
- Peter Van Loan - Minister of Public Safety
- Christian Paradis - Minister of Public Works and Government Services
- Vic Toews - President of the Treasury Board
- Rona Ambrose - Minister of Labour
- Diane Finley - Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development
- Bev J. Oda - Minister of International Cooperation
- Josée Verner - Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister for La Francophonie
- Jay D. Hill - Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
- James Moore - Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages
- Lisa Raitt - Minister of Natural Resources
- Gail Shea - Minister of Fisheries and Oceans
- Jean-Pierre Blackburn - Minister of National Revenue and Minister of State(Agriculture)
- Greg Thompson - Minister of Veterans Affairs
- Marjory LeBreton - Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister of State (Seniors)
- Gary Lunn - Minister of State (Sport)
- Gordon O’Connor - Minister of State and Chief Government Whip
- Helena Guergis - Minister of State (Status of Women)
- Diane Ablonczy - Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism)
- Rob Merrifield - Minister of State (Transport)
- Lynne Yelich - Minister of State (Western Economic Diversification)
- Steven Fletcher - Minister of State (Democratic Reform)
- Gary Goodyear - Minister of State (Science and Technology)
- Denis Lebel - Minister of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec)
- Keith Ashfield - Minister of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency)
- Peter Kent - Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas)

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Financial Realities and Banning Pre-Writ Election Advertising

From the tables below comparing election spending to the approximate per vote rebates each party will have received this election compared to last we can get a good picture of where the different parties stand financially. The Liberals are clearly in rough financial shape right now which should make those who really want a leadership race ponder whether the party can feasibly afford it (especially with some past candidates who may want to run again not having their debts paid off yet and the donation limits now being $1,100 instead of $5,400 as they were in 2006), but it is obvious that the party that is in the worst financial shape right now relative to the last election is the NDP. They spent $5 million more this time and will be receiving only marginally more back in rebates. They will clearly be unprepared for an electoral campaign for some time and may have to reconsider spending the maximum next time. Regardless BOTH parties will really have to ramp up their fundraising efforts over the next year.

But I do have one idea that I think all opposition parties could get behind that would ensure the Cons financial advantage doesn’t continue to give them an unfair advertising advantage outside the writ period. Simply the opposition parties should band together and pass legislation banning any paid political advertising outside the election period such as TV, radio and paid internet banner ads. Since such legislation wouldn’t technically be a money bill and doesn't direct any spending of taxpayer money I don't see why the opposition couldn't use an opposition day or pass this as private member's bill to have it go through. It is in all the opposition parties' interests, but is also an issue of fairness. We have spending limits in an election campaign for a reason, but the Conservatives flagrantly got around this time by running ads in the week leading up to the writ drop. What stops them from doing that for a full 3 or 4 weeks prior to their next election call? That's hardly a level playing field for an election campaign and makes the spending limits into somewhat of a sham.

Conservatives would oppose banning political advertising outside the writ period on grounds of free speech but I don’t see how this would be much different from a constitutional standpoint than election spending limits during campaigns or limiting the amount individuals can donate to political parties (the latter of which Conservatives have constrained further). I also hardly think we'd see many Canadians oppose shielding them from year round election ads, in fact I think it's something that would find majority support, as I'm pretty sure that for most Canadians the only time they want to think about politics is election time and would rather see commercials about something else outside the writ period.I believe many cities already have rules banning election advertising in gas stations as I seem to recall from the oily escapades.

I realize I'm no election law expert and this may prove difficult to enforce in practice, but I'd thought at least throw the idea out there and I'm curious what other Liberals and members of other parties would think about this. If the Liberals, NDP and Bloc don't band together to pass something like this though I don't see how the Conservatives would be stopped from dominating the airwaves with only their message for the foreseeable future.

Electoral Rebates Relative to Election Spending

2006 Election


# of Votes

Electoral Rebate

Approximate Amount Spent on Election

Difference Between Amount Spent and Rebate











Bloc Québécois



Unable to find


New Democrats








Unable to find


* Of course Elections Canada is still looking into whether Conservatives illegally exceeded
the election spending cap by an additional $1.1 million

2008 Election


# of Votes

Electoral Rebate

Approximate Amount Spent on Election

Difference Between Amount Spent and Rebate

Difference in Shortfall Between 2008-2006













Bloc Québécois



Unable to find



New Democrats












Note: I know the numbers in these tables are not exact. They are based only on the info I could find. I am under the impression that the rebate was $1.75 per vote in 2006 and is $1.93 now. Anyone can feel free to correct me in the comments if they have better information and I will update these tables accordingly. As well I know that the per vote rebate isn't the only rebate Elections Canada distributes as I believe they also reimburse any candidate who receives at least 10% of the vote in their riding 60% of their election expenses. The Jurist notes in the comments that approximately half of parties election expenses end up being re-imbursed by Elections Canada on the whole aside from the per vote rebate. Still by comparing the per vote rebate from this time to last time it gives us a good idea of where the parties stand financially (in terms of public subsidies) after this election compared to last.

Note2: Blogger seems to be giving me trouble formatting these tables properly. If anyone still can't read any of the info in the tables please note it in the comments. Thanks!

UPDATE: For some added context here are the latest available fundraising numbers for the three months ending June 30:
Conservatives: $3.5 million from 33,833 contributors
Liberals: $912,378 from 9,556 contributors.
NDP: $711,637 from 11,941 contributors
Green party: $213,922 from 3,184 contributors
Bloc Quebecois: $36,698 from 607 contributors.

Even though the NDP had more contributors this is still further evidence that they are worse financial shape than the Liberals after having spent the same amount in this election and received back substantially less in rebates. Though of course this is just one quarter and not a full representation of how much party had at its disposal going into the election.

I do hope the Liberal numbers will be much higher when the next quarterly numbers up to September 30th are released but regardless it is clear we have a lot to improve in the year ahead in terms of fundraising and it should be a top priority. The Victory Fund was a strong initiative but it should only be the start of much more to come. I think we have a lot to learn from the Obama campaign in the U.S. that has succeeded in finally overcoming a traditional Democratic weakness in fundraising. If we can even replicate a fraction of his success we will be strong financially again but it will take incredibly hard work and bold ideas to make it happen. I'll obviously be happy to promote any new fundraising initiatives that come about in the near future.

In the meantime I hope there is serious consideration of ways to formally curtail political advertising outside the writ period.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Bleeding Left

So I understand a former Liberal cabinet minister thinks the Liberals have "moved too far left". I happen think this is a total myth, but if you happen to think that moving the Liberals sharply to the right is a solution to its problems I invite you to take a look at the chart above which shows Liberals support from 1988 to 2008. From 1993 to 2008 we’ve gone from 41.3% to 26.2%. Over that same time the NDP has gone from 6.9% to 18.2%, while the Greens took another 7% from us in this last election. Liberals really ought to take into that into consideration when thinking about where they go from here.
Yes a divided right helped us win in 1993 and yes we won back some of the PC vote in 2004, but we can’t ignore that the combined Alliance-PC total was still 35% in the 1993 election that brought us back to power while the NDP went from 20.4% in 1988 down to 6.9%. So isn’t it pretty clear where bulk of our vote increase came from from 1988 to 1993?

And if you really believe the Liberals have gone “too far left” under Stéphane Dion just what “left wing” policies would you suggest Liberals discard? Fighting poverty? The Kelowna Accords? National child care? Do you think cutting income taxes or corporate taxes is too far left? A carbon tax has also never been a left wing idea. You can’t just make blanket claims that the party has gone too far left without giving even one specific policy example of what you think should be different.

I personally don’t like these right-left labels that some seem to fall for. Myself I prefer socially progressive and fiscally responsible policies and I was very proud of the platform we had in the last election. No one can credibly tell us we weren’t proposing sound public policy that wasn’t going to be good for the economy and the environment. We will have new policies I’m sure in the next election, but I would recommend tweaking rather than an overhaul as I’d hate to see the party just start pandering to what’s more politically palatable than what actually makes for good governance.

But back to the point at hand, Liberals are going to do worse in the next election if move sharply right. We ignore the rise of the NDP and the Greens at our own peril.

I believe there are three things to ensure they do not harm our electoral chances further in the next election:
1) Stand up to Harper vigorously in the next Parliament. We shouldn’t fear voting against him, I am 100% certain either the NDP or the Bloc will vote to keep him in power time and again.
2) Put out a similar progressive platform but that is communicated in more bite-sized fashion
3) Endorse holding a referendum on electoral reform

I will have more on each on those points in future posts.

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What Was That About “Panicking”?

Didn't have great access to e-mail the past two days but IF I did, this is what I have had up earlier:
Don’t you just love it when an elected leader completely reverses him/herself within a day or two of the election? So when Stéphane Dion proposes a prudent 5 point plan for the economy Harper calls it “panicking” and “just a bunch of useless meetings”. Then days before an election Flaherty decides to copy the part of Dion’s plan that called for accelerated infrastructure spending and now Harper has copied all of the rest! And yet NONE of the headlines convey this obvious fact.

I do hope someone in the media calls Harper on this blatant reversal and questions how he feels about carrying out a plan he called useless less than a week ago. This reminds me again of the 2004 U.S. election where Bush was unwilling to admit he had made any mistakes in his first term and then all of a sudden just days after he won he was holding a press conference admitting different mistakes he made. It really builds trust in our leaders doesn’t it?

But seriously does Harper have ANY original ideas? What’s next is he going to introduce the Green Shift in his next budget? I won’t complain if he does, but even though the election is over and the people have spoken that’s no reason why the media and opposition should roll over and play dead and Harper’s actions do reinforce what we Liberals were saying all along: Stéphane Dion is a much stronger leader and knows better how to manage the economy than does Stephen Harper. I do wonder though just how many more reversals we will see from Harper before the week is over.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

I Support Stephane Dion for Liberal Leader

I support a leader who after 150 years of negligence, has vowed to become personally involved in native land claims issues. That's leadership. I will not be bullied by a so-called leader who has not only done nothing on the issue, but has chosen not to mention it either.

I support a leader who made post secondary education and funding a greater priority than ever before. I will not be misled by a so-called leader who doesn't even mention students in his platform.

I support a leader who, perhaps to hid own self detriment, fought for all political voices to be heard. That's true leadership. I will not be taken in by a selfish or controlling so-called leader.

I support a leader finally willing to tackle the shame of child poverty. I don't want to see us do the bidding of a man for whom poverty is a foreign word.

I support a leader willing to give us the best environmental policy for our country and the world instead of something that won't work but just happens to be more politically expedient. I'll support such a politician with such principles any day against a so called leader who has none.

I support a leader who surpassed the challenge to run 1/3 female candidates and wants gender equality assured. That's leadership. As a woman, I will not used or fooled by a man who ignores the fact that equality doesn't yet exist in this country.

As a woman I know leadership and leadership characteristics come in different ways, and sometimes unconventional leadership is brushed aside. But the Blue war room and a blood thirsty media do not deserve to get what they want.

I support a man who, from day one of becoming leader, faced character assassination but handled himself with (omg surprise!)dignity. Who brought forth (costed, fair) plans he truly believes in for our country, economy and is/was a chance for us to be positively awed and influential again by the world.

I support the leader, our
Liberal leader, Stephane Dion, who would, and could still, be a PM all Canadians could be proud of.

He has A LOT of work to do rebuild the party but I hope he realizes there a lot more Liberals than the media let's on who want him to continue on the job. We want to build back up the party together not fight amongst ourselves.We want Dion to rebuild and renew, not a leadership race.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Memories of 2004

There are A LOT of differences between what happened last night and what happened almost 4 years ago in the U.S., but I can’t help thinking that how I feel today must be similar to how dedicated Democrats felt in the U.S. after George Bush won a second term with increased numbers in the House and Senate to go with it. I know so many Democrats were optimistic that momentum was going their way again in the final weekend and that they would come out on top in Election night. That the rest of the country saw George Bush as they did. In the end they were wrong and it really wasn’t that close at all on Election night.

Now Harper only increased his vote by 1% last night but there is no question he will see this is a strengthened mandate just like Bush did and I won't be surprised if Harper similiar refuses to really work with other parties across the aisle. Two years later though Bush was dealt a crushing defeat in the midterm elections for his dismal performance in office. We have a very different system (as winning more seats in the House means ousting the head of government at the same time), but I won’t be surprised if we end back at the polls in two years time ourselves.

I take heart in knowing that the Conservative governments of Bush, Mulroney and Harris also were extremely unpopular by the end of the second terms because the real disastrous nature of their policies and leadership came to be realized more with the passage of time.

It may or may not turn out in progressives favour like it did for progressives in the U.S. in 2006 or the Liberals in 1993 or 2003 in Ontario, but we should be under no illusion that it will take a tremendous amount of work to win back power and any assumptions that a simple new coat of paint will win it again are naïve at best. I certainly agree with what Wells says here on what would NOT be an appropriate fix (I will have more on this later). Liberals are not entitled to power we must work incredibly hard to win Canadians trust again and we must work with, and win over, many more progressives to be successful.

I will be back soon with a couple more posts on my thoughts on the way forward from here.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

What Would Another Year of Harper Mean? How Progressives Vote Tomorrow Could Shape the Next Decade

I’m convinced that IF the Liberals run a great ground game, place their final ads well, AND (more importantly) rally additional Green and NDP supporters to their side in the final hours of the campaign then we will see the most progressive PM in Canadian history, Stephane Dion, elected to lead our country. But part of that involves getting the message out about what an even miniscule victory for Harper would mean for Canada and the future prospects of ALL progressive parties.

If Harper comes out with the most seats on election night I believe he will strike a deal with the Bloc Quebecois, seeing it as his only opportunity to regain favour in Quebec after badly blowing it there this time. That means Harper would have a blank cheque on votes in the House for likely up to two years and there’s not much Liberals and/or the NDP could do to defeat his legislation.

So what would this mean policy wise? Well it would mean that for at least two years there would be...
- No progress towards any new child care spaces or a national program
- Increased poverty levels across the country with the government having no plan to address it
- No new investments in post-secondary education, leaving Canada ill-equipped to compete on the world stage. Each year that goes by we would fall further behind
- Further embarrassments on the world stage as a successor to the Kyoto protocol is formally drafted and we are left with an even worse environmental stance than the United States
- Continued rises in greenhouse gas emissions as Conservatives continue to hold to intensity based targets only to please the oil sands
- Further backsliding on human rights: ignoring the practices Canadian mining companies in the 3rd world, ignoring our own citizens facing the death penalty abroad (and possibly bringing it back here), and continued opposition to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Aboriginal Peoples
- Further head in the sand economic management so that our financial situation ends up like how Mulroney left it
- Extending of the Afghan mission beyond 2011 despite the fact that we will have done our part and likely could be used in other troubled regions of the globe
- Further gutting of press freedoms
- Further gutting of the Access to Information Act as Harper's penchant for secrecy reaches new bounds
- Further cuts to Status of Women
- Further weakening of the Gun Registry by stealth
- A continued carbon copy foreign policy that takes cues from elsewhere (remember most foreign policy decisions are not even subject to votes in Parliament)
- Paltry contributions to foreign aid and abandonment of Africa just as they need our help more than ever
- The final elimination of any spending room left to ever launch without needing to raise taxes (which no political party is ever willing to do) and much more that will have progressives realizing his second term is even worse than the first.

Now if you are a progressive and you think you can live with that for at least two years (possibly more) thinking that as long as Harper is defeated in the NEXT election after this one things would be fine and easily reversed, you would be mistaken to think the effects wouldn’t be linger long beyond another year or two mandate or that wouldn’t be even more difficult to defeat him in the next election.

The reason for this is that Harper would make every effort to spend the cupboard bare with further focus group inspired tax credits, maybe even another cynical 1% cut to the GST. That’s not only bad economic management, but it would leave ALL parties with less to offer in the next election.

For Liberals that should be obvious just look at how much financial room there was in our platform this time for child care, Kelowna and education compared to last time. There was less on all fronts because of Harper’s GST cuts and all his focus group tax credits that did nothing for our economy. Given the reality that no leader of any party (except the Greens I guess) is going to promise to raise taxes to create fiscal room for the aforementioned priorities any new tax cuts would likely not be reversed.

For those NDPers who think corporate taxes could be raised this election makes clear that that’s a non-starter for 80% of the Canadian population, not to mention all the recent NDP provincial leaders, who realize we need to corporate taxes to get our economy going again. I guarantee if Layton is around next time he won’t be promising to raise corporate taxes as he’ll follow the lead of every other NDP leader in the country. Even this time Layton has gone around claiming that he will never raise corporate taxes just cancelled planned ones.

Which means if Harper gets in this time, even for just one more year, it could take 6 or 7 years to bring us back to a financial situation where a national child care program, meaningfully investing in post-secondary education, a real poverty plan, and tackling the infrastructure deficit would and a host of other programs all progressives believe in become financially possible again.

So with less money available Liberals (and all progressive parties) would have less to offer Canadians in the next election and Harper would have ample time to re-tool just like Jean Charest did in Quebec when everyone counted him out. And he would obviously have no shame in calling another election at the most opportune time. Of course the potential is always there to defeat him next time (and all of us will hard just as hard to do so), but it’s naïve to think it would be any easier than this time and it’s naïve to think that whatever he did in his next mandate could be easily reversed.

Plain and simple many people will suffer under another Harper mandate, our reputation will worsen, and Canada will fall further behind compared to other countries who seem to better understand that fostering a green economy and investing in PSE and child care are essential to being competitive in today’s world. It would be very hard to catch up with each year that goes by with Harper in charge. I don’t think any progressive wants to see this happen to our country.

So it should be clear that the stakes are VERY high for all progressives this time out.

We can work together to elect a progressive PM that would work with the NDP (and any Green) MPs to work on common priorities in a minority Parliament. Harper will NEVER listen to NDP and Green priorities and Dion definitely will, they would have far more influence than if Harper was PM.

We could have the most progressive Prime Minister in Canadian history or the most regressive one.

I hope NDP and Green supporters realize that all our parties and, more importantly, all Canadians, would be better off if Stéphane Dion becomes Prime Minister tomorrow night rather than Stephen Harper. Only one of those two can come out with the most seats.

So if you were thinking of voting NDP or Green but live in a riding where they finished 3rd, 4th or 5th last time, if you vote Liberal this time, I know that a year from now you will not regret that decision and see that in fact your own party has played a bigger role in Parliament than ever before. For Green supporters this is exactly what Elizabeth May has asked you to do, and for NDPers you should know your party will have far more influence if you did the same. If this happens we will definitely have a progressive Prime Minister elected tomorrow night.

We share a lot in common and I hope we can work together bringing progressive policy for Canadians in the next Parliament. But that all depends on how things go tomorrow…

N.B.: I’ll be back later tonight with my last two posts of this election.

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Harper/Flaherty Follow Dion on the Economy

Flaherty and Harper become the last arriving at the party with Flaherty saying now that now all of a sudden he does want to speed infrastructure projects. This is after spending a week of saying that this pledge by Dion would be "panicking". Obviously Harper and Flaherty have no idea how to get out of this crisis when all they offerred initially was stock tips that would have led to massive losses for any Canadians that followed them as they insisted nothing needed to be done. Now with only days before an election we get a $25 billion quasi-bailout of the banks and Flaherty admitting that the Liberals five-point 30 day plan was the right approach all along.

When the world economy is in dire shape this is not the kind of judgement we need to steer out country our of these rough waters. Harper and Flaherty have been asleep at the switch and only seem to react when the polls tell them they have to. That is not leadership.

Harper why don't you just admit that Stephane Dion and the Liberals know how to manage the economy and get us out of this crisis better than you do? Because what we've seen this week proves it in spades.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Harper Realizes He’s Failed Quebecers

Realizing he really has no positive reasons left to offer the people of Quebec to vote for him and that's has consistently let them down, Harper figures “at least I'm not the devil” will do to keep what support he has left:
Harper tells Quebecers he is not the 'devil'
Andrew Mayeda, Canwest News Service
Published: Saturday, October 11, 2008
LONGUEUIL, Que. - Stephen Harper, looking to stem the dramatic slide of his party in Quebec, reassured Quebecers on Saturday that he is not the "devil incarnate."
Somehow I don’t think this is how Conservatives in Quebec hoped their campaign would finish. With Harper now refusing to rule out that he may appoint more unelected Quebecers (including Fortier even if he loses) to the Senate to serve in his cabinet, it seems Harper is less optimistic about his chances in Quebec as he seems to be about those "great buys" on the stock market.

Quebecers clearly have a better option in Stephane Dion and the Liberal Party of Canada and I hope other Canadians take note that they seem to be the only party able to form a government with significant elected Quebec representation.

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Some Perspective: Where Were We At This Point Last Time? Part 2

UPDATED: Strategic Counsel (including tonight's poll added)
I don’t generally like to blog about polls, but with it being so close to e-day they take on a lot more relevance. But we should also take into account how the polls were at this point last time and I remain disappointed that no media outlet has done so. So to give a more balanced view of the polls here are the polling results from the main companies at the equivalent point before E-day(Jan. 20th, 2006) last time compared to today:

Polling Company






Lib-Cons Diff






















Strategic Counsel38281771110%

Decima (Jan. 15)







And here are the results as of today:

Polling Company






Lib-Cons Diff


32 (-4.2)

28 (-1.4)

22 (+4.7)

8 (+1.9)




34 (-4)

29 (+3)

18 (-1)

8 (+3)

9 (-2)



34 (-3.1)

26 (-0.9)


11 (+6.4)



Strategic Counsel35 (-3)28 (NC)19 (+2)9(+2)9(-2)7%(-3%)


35 (-2)

25 (-2)

18 (NC)


9 (-2)

10%(NC, but poll was taken 8 days before e-day last time

I couldn’t find the regional poll numbers from 2006 it would be interesting to compare how those compared as well, if anyone can find them please put them in the comments.

But with respect to the national numbers what’s changed compared to 2006? Well Conservative support is actually more down now in the polls than at this point last time than the Liberal vote is. The good news for Liberals is that Conservatives ended up doing worse on e-day than most of the pollsters pegged them and the Liberals ended up doing better.

NDP supporters might find it interesting to see that, with the exception of Nanos (ironically Dippers have been slagging the accuracy of Nanos all election and were talking up Decima not too long ago), they are exactly where they were last time despite having spent far more money and having run a much stronger campaign this time out. The Greens are the only ones
consistently up from where they were before.

But one thing is clear: the polls are showing a closer race between the Liberals and Conservatives than last time at this point. But it would seem that this time voter’s preferences are even more volatile as we’ve seen much more wild swings in support in the past week of the campaign this time around.

In the end though only Liberals or Conservatives can win and whichever one has the better final weekend, makes the most effective ad buys AND (most importantly) gets out the vote best on e-day will win.

Be back later with much more...

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Who Needs Scientists and Economists Anyway?

So I understand 230 leading Canadian economists and 120 of Canada's top climate scientists are calling for the federal government to adopt a Green Shift like Stéphane Dion has proposed. I wouldn’t listen to them though because they must all surely be “crazy” Liberal supporters. I’d much sooner put my trust in someone who confidently said a few weeks ago “My own belief is if we were going to have some kind of big crash or recession, we probably would have had it by now.

And he’s right, everything is fine. So 5 major bank economists are saying they are expecting "worse than a recession" on the horizon, what do they know? As Rob Silver says they’re just “panicking” and “cheering for a recession”.

Really we would be insane to listen to the advice of “experts” at a time like this.

The TSX may be down over 35% since the summer but as Stephen Harper tells us, the lower the market goes the more that will open up wonderful buying opportunities. That sounds like “we’re better off with Harper” to me. How about you?

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10X10 for Change, Part 3

I'll have a post up later on the Conservatives too little too late platform that surely will demonstrate that they don't really understand the Canadian economy, but for now he's another installment of why to cast for vote for the Liberals on October 14th.

Why Vote FOR the Liberal Party of Canada?
21) The Liberal Party has the strongest potential cabinet of any of the parties with front-bench experience that dwarfs the others
22) A Liberal government would fix the backlog in our immigration system and help ensure they succeed, without having to pick favourites and treat them like economic units
23) A Liberal government would do the most to help Canadians go Green in their homes (through financial support and Green mortgages)
24) A Liberal government would do the most to protect our natural resources and natural parks
25) A Liberal government would take greater efforts to ensure we have cleaner air, and continued fresh water supply
26) A Liberal government would hold an independent public inquiry into the listeriosis crisis and increasing funding for food safety inspection
27) A Liberal government would institute the first ever Commissioner for Gender Equality (as has been done in Australia, UK, and South Africa) to ensure all legislation is viewed with an equality lens
28) A Liberal government would restore the funding cut to Status of Women Canada and re-insert helping to achieve gender equality back into its mandate
29) A Liberal government will provide significant aid to the manufacturing sector during this difficult time with the Advanced Manufacturing Prosperity Fund
30) A Liberal government would get smart on crime by providing additional resources to the RCMP, creating a gun violence and gang prevention fund, banning military assault rifles, and improving the Youth Criminal Justice Act (following the recommendations of experts)

Why vote AGAINST Harper's Conservatives?
21) Conservatives would give Canada the weakest cabinet in history, even weaker than the one they had in the last Parliament with Emerson, Solberg and Hearn all not running again.
22) Conservatives are content to have the powers of the immigration system wielded by a single cabinet minister to decide which immigrants get favoured over others which won’t fix the backlog and flies in the face of the principles of fairness and equality on which our immigration system
23) Conservatives don’t make helping Canadians go green a priority even though if would save them money in the long run
24) A Liberal government would do the most to protect our natural resources and natural parks
25) Conservatives won’t commit to banning bulk water exports
26) Conservatives are only willing to hold a scaled-down closed door inquiry into the listeriosis outbreak that would pale into comparison to what was conducted for past epidemics. All the while their ministers have been AWOL in dealing with the crisis have been joking about the crisis as people died.
27) Conservatives oppose a Commissioner for Gender Equality because they seem to believe that gender equality has already been achieved despite all evidence to the contrary
28) Conservatives cut funding to Status of Women Canada which severely weakened its operation and forced 12 regional offices to close
29) Conservatives only believe in miniscule aid to the manufacturing sector and only then after months of pressure to do so. They don’t believe in it and can’t be trusted to follow through on what little they have promised.
30) The Conservatives approach to crime flies in the face of all evidence and advice from experts as to what actually works in preventing crime. In fact what they propose has failed in the United States and their youth justice proposals have already been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada and fly in the face of international law.

Part 2 of the series
Part 1 of the series

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